Automobility, the global system of human movement built around petroleumfueled cars, clearly has significant negative environmental consequences. Yet transforming this system presents a nearly overwhelming technological, cultural, and political challenge. The production of oil and cars is fundamental to modern capitalism and is a source of geopolitical power, while the consumption of these goods intimately structures the lives of billions of people worldwide. This article offers a conceptualization of the challenge presented by automobility. It argues that automobility operates according to a socially constructed logic linking gasoline, cars, and mobility to human flourishing. Using examples of industry decisions, public policy adjustments, and shifts in cultural meanings, this essay illustrates that automobility has never been inevitable, nor is its future assured. Rather, its logic has been constructed and is continually reconstructed through human agency.

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